International Space Station: 20 Years

Today is a special anniversary for me (and, well, OK, sure: NASA too).

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the U.S. would build a space station. NASA started gearing up, with various chunks of the project assigned or adopted to various NASA centers. Despite being known as the center for unmanned space probes, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory took on parts of the project work.

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035: To Boldly Go

In This Episode: To Boldly Go? No, this isn’t about Star Trek, but rather something even better: real life. This is the story of a 9-year-old with Uncommon Sense who was inspired to reach for the stars — and years later inspired a bunch of other kids growing up behind him.

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029: 32 Glasses of Water Go Down the Black Hole

In This Episode: I love watching others and recognizing signs of Uncommon Sense. I’m going to tell you about another friend of mine (who has no idea I’m going to talk about this), since it’s a great example of taking something you see with a grain of salt, and calling B.S. when it’s necessary. And then, I take on the universe.

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003: Cassini: The Bigger Picture

In This Episode: From California, where I came to see and reflect on the End of Mission for the Cassini spacecraft — its so-called Grand Finale. This isn’t about the mission per se, but rather the thinking behind it, how that fits into True’s mission, and how that ties into this week’s Honorary Unsubscribe! In other words, The Bigger Picture.

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1989: An Amazing Year for NASA/JPL

Note: I actually wrote this in January to explain the background on an item I had put up for auction. It was deleted once the auction was over, but a reader wanted to be able to point someone at the text because he thought it was interesting. So here it is. –RC

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Behind the Scenes at JPL

Long-time readers know that This is True was created while I still had a Day Job. It was a very cool job: I was on the engineering staff at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1986-1996 — True was started in 1994, so there was a two-year overlap).

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Ground Control to Major Tom

It’s been forever since I’ve written a “What I’ve been reading lately” blurb. You’ll like what has been on my tablet lately. (It’s amusing that while putting this in my blog software and having to choose categories, both “Away From Work” and “True Business” seem appropriate. Read on, and you’ll understand!)

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Curiosity: the Mars Science Laboratory

My writing time this week was interrupted: I only started in the late evening, because I had my satellite TV tuned in to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where they were monitoring the landing of the latest rover on Mars, Curiosity (the best-named science craft ever); the mission itself is called the Mars Science Laboratory — accurate, if not as inspiring.

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Dinner with Neil Armstrong

On Saturday my wife and I had the opportunity to “have dinner with” the first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong. It happened to be almost exactly* 43 years after that spectacular event. Like many kids who grew up in the 60s and watched that history being made, Armstrong was a hero to me, so when I got the opportunity to do this, I of course leapt at it.

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A Glorious Dawn

I’m really taken with a video released on YouTube last week. It’s an Auto-Tune, which is the name given to soundtracks that use the audio plug-in of the same name. Auto-Tune was designed to correct the pitch of vocals, but clever music creators realized they could use it to make spoken word recordings musical. This is a fantastic example of the genre.

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